Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have concluded that at six month follow-up, patients with psychological distress, and treated with either acupuncture or integrative care (acupuncture alongside talking therapy), show more long-term benefit than those given conventional care. Patients were drawn from four GP practices across western Sweden, and comprised 120 adults aged 20 to 55. Primary diagnoses were: depression (30%), anxiety or panic disorders (20%), severe stress (20%), somatic symptoms/pain (20%) and sleep disorders (10%). Acupuncture was given once each week for eight weeks.
Both acupuncture and integrative care were more effective than conventional care, in reducing anxiety and depression whilst improving quality of life. The researchers say their results are in line with earlier findings suggesting the effectiveness of acupuncture for anxiety and depression.
(Six-month effects of integrative treatment, therapeutic acupuncture and conventional treatment in alleviating psychological distress in primary care patient – follow up from an open, pragmatic randomized controlled trial.
BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 30 June 2014.)
A pragmatic randomised controlled trial conducted by the Medicines Research Group at the University of East London, has found that patients with depression benefit more when they receive acupuncture in addition to taking SSRI antidepressant medication. (SSRIs include citalopram, fluoxetine, Prozac and seroxat.) A total of 76 patients were randomly allocated to one of two groups: one group was given an SSRI but also received acupuncture, whilst the other group was only given the SSRI. Baseline depression scores for the two groups were 22.2 and 22.1 respectively.
After the first week of treatment, the depression score in the acupuncture group had dropped to 15.6, compared to 18.3 for the second group. This significant difference was maintained to the end of the six week trial, when scores were 6.3 for the acupuncture group, and 8.2 for the drug-alone group.
(Acupuncture combined with an antidepressant for patients with depression in hospital: a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. Acupuncture in Medicine, 29 April 2014, epub ahead of print.)
A study published by the British Medical Journal shows that acupuncture outperforms counselling and usual care, in patients who have depression complicated by pain. This follows from a secondary analysis of the study data arising out of the research detailed on 21 January 2014 below.
A total of 755 patients recruited through GP practices across northern England, were randomised to receive acupuncture (302 patients), counselling (302 patients) or usual care alone (151 patients). Patients’ assessment of their pain and general wellbeing revealed that those with moderate to extreme pain were doing better after three months if they received acupuncture compared with those who received either counselling or usual care.
(Acupuncture, counselling or usual care for depression and comorbid pain: secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open, May 2014.)
A large UK multi-centre, randomised controlled trial has shown that adding either acupuncture or counselling to usual care, can hasten improvements in patients with moderate to severe depression. A total of 755 such patients were recruited from 27 GP practices across northern England, and randomised to one of three groups: acupuncture (302 patients), counselling (302 patients), or usual care alone (151 patients). Over a three month period, patients attended a mean of ten acupuncture sessions or nine counselling sessions. Patients were followed up over twelve months. Usual care, including antidepressants, was available to all three groups.
Compared with usual care alone, both acupuncture and counselling gave significantly greater reductions in depression scores, at both three and twelve months. Antidepressants fail to work in more than half of patients, and many patients would like to be offered drug-free treatment options.
(Acupuncture and counselling for depression in primary care: a randomised controlled trial. PLoS Medicine, 24 September 2013.)
Researchers in Toronto, Canada have found in a pilot study, that acupuncture has a potential role in helping with the unwanted sexual side-effects of antidepressant medication. These drugs, including the so-called SSRIs introduced in more recent years (citalopram, cipramil, fluoxetine, Prozac, Seroxat) are known to cause sexual dysfunction such as loss of libido and impotence in 50 to 90% of users.
A group of patients experiencing such symptoms were given a traditional Chinese medical assessment, and then treated with acupuncture over a twelve week period. Participants were asked to complete weekly questionnaires. Women reported a significant improvement in libido and lubrication, with small trends towards improvement in several other areas. Men reported significant improvements in all areas of sexual functioning, plus reductions in anxiety and depression.
(Efficacy of Acupuncture Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction Secondary to Antidepressants. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 19 November 2013.)